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A Spokane family provides shelter to another, and learns many life lessons along the way

Courtesy of Jennie Heideman
Jennie Heideman with her husband Jon and their two boys, Lincoln and Hudson.



One evening in July 2017 in Spokane, Jennie Heideman was scrolling through Facebook when a post jumped out at her. It said a family with two little kids needed shelter for the night.



The family that needed help was a couple with an infant and young child. They were living in a broken down car. The weather was very hot. Daytime temperatures were well into the 90s. This family had moved to Spokane to start a new life. They had jobs, but they also had debts they were trying to pay down. They couldn’t get any traction.


At the time, Jennie and her husband, Jon Heideman, were raising two young children of their own. Jennie reached out to the family in need and invited them into her modest, split-level home.


Jennie thought that she would be the one showing this struggling family a better way to live.

“I looked at them, to be honest — and this is a little embarrassing to admit — as you don’t have life quite figured out because you’ve struggled with homelessness and we do have life figured out, so we’re just going to show you how to do this,” Jennie said.


She says this approach was not only exhausting, but it was morally flawed.


In this story, Jennie shares how a one-night stay for this family of four stretched across eight months. During this time, everyone in the house, including Jennie, had much to learn.


Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.